Canberra History

If you think that Canberra history is rather short, think again.

The place was inhabited by the Ngunnawal people, Australians Aboriginals, long before European settlement.

Canberra's name carries great weight.

People think it comes from the Aboriginal word Kanberra or, in other words, "meeting place".

No other name could be better for the political city of the country and its democratic society.

Europeans settled there in the 1830s. But the choice for the location to become capital of Australia happened much later.

With both Sydney and Melbourne strongly claiming their rights to become the nation's capital, in 1908 politicians decided for a third location.

New South Wales transferred 2360 sq km of land to the Commonwealth of Australia, in 1911. This area became the Australian Capital Territories (ACT.)

Walter Burley Griffin, an American architect, won an international design competition and developed a plan for the new city in 1912.

The design brings together built areas with parks, gardens and bush. See the concentric display of the streets here on Canberra map.

The History of Canberra - The Old Parliament House

canberra history the old parliament house The Old Parliament House - visit the The Museum of Australian Democracy inside

So, the Australian Parliament chose Canberra in 1908 as the location for the federal capital. But not much happened for a while.

The years of the First World War, with the country's heavy involvement and the difficult period that followed, delayed a proper development of the new capital city. This means that rather than building the right Parliament House, the leaders of the time decided to build a provisional one.

The provisional Parliament House opened on 9 May 1927 in Canberra, which at that time was a small rural area with a handful of houses and plenty of space for sheep to roam and graze.

The building functioned as a Parliament for 61 years. In the meantime the small village became a beautiful city, with lots of cultural things to see and leisure stuff to do.

On 9 May 1988 Queen Elizabeth II opened the new Parliament House to mark Australia's bicentenary.

The Australian War Memorial is Canberra's best place to explore the history of Australia and the bravery of its people who participated to wars or peace keeping missions around the world.

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